Writing Tips: Punctuation

Why bother with grammar?

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“Why can’t we let people write the way they want to?” someone challenged me in a training session last week. Like many others, he had never been taught grammar at school and didn’t see why he should start now. And he cited his heroes – Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, William Burroughs – as examples […]

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Stone the cows

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After listening to Radio 4’s day of gripping readings from the King James Bible on Sunday, I feel like taking a potshot at one of today’s sacred cows: plain English. Here’s the essayist Joseph Addison, writing three hundred years ago in the Spectator about a visit to the Royal Exchange: “This grand Scene of Business […]

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The helpful hyphen

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Lynne Truss is sadly confused about hyphens. In her book Eats, Shoots and Leaves, the nation’s favourite punctuation stickler throws up her hands and declares that “hyphen usage is just a big bloody mess and is likely to get messier.” We will have no truck with this kind of defeatism at Clarity. We insist that […]

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Punctuation: why do we need it anyway?

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[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy] Today, I’m delighted to feature a guest post by fellow copywriter Sarah Turner. As you’ll see, she’s a definitely a woman after my own heart . . .

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Why I hate the comma splice

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[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy] There’s a nasty little punctuation habit that instantly gives your age away. It’s called the comma splice, and I’ve noticed it’s mostly used by writers under the age of 35.

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Apostrophe rule: 100s or 100’s?

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[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy] This addendum to my previous blog entry on apostrophes is dedicated to the graphic designer friend of mine who recently posted a cry for help on Facebook, asking which was correct: 100’s or 100s. Naturally, her writer friends told her to ditch the apostrophe, which she […]

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Grammar brush-up: Rules for indicating possession with an apostrophe

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[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy] Having worked with more than my share of tiresome subs who clearly quite enjoy getting their knickers in a twist about other people’s apostrophe crimes, I don’t want to get too snarky about the rights and wrongs of this important little punctuation mark. After all, you […]

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St Thomas’ Hospital or St Thomas’s Hospital?

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[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy] In the comments to a previous post, reader katypea asks the following: “St. Thomas’ Hospital” (as per the directional signage around Waterloo) or “St. Thomas’s Hospital” (as per my sheer editorial common sense). Please tell me i won the arguement with The Boyfriend last night…? It’s […]

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A good reason not to pay your Council Tax

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[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy] Thanks to reader Blake Evans for alerting me to this story about Birmingham City Council banning the apostrophe in its road signs. A tad worrying that the head of the city’s transport scrutiny committee, Councillor Martin Mullaney, seems to think that a basic grasp of the […]

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